19 Dec 2019 - 15 Mar 2020
10:00 - 22:00
The realization of a hypothetical near future – one made possible by the autonomous anything, the thinning lines between reality and simulation, and the potentialities of the Internet of Things (I-o-T) – is currently a topic of popular discussion within the design profession. Yet, existing technologies, even long-established ones, maintain the ability to transform communities. Focusing upon a fragile, post-disaster community, the projects collected here propose means of strengthening that community by precisely inserting new industries into the area with consideration of existing technologies.
In the wake of the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima Prefecture gained the perception of a closed island in regards to habitability and agricultural trade as a result of fear and stigma centered on radioactive exposure. While today, a large region of Fukushima Prefecture still remains unoccupiable, several areas formerly within the government-mandated evacuation zone have been recently lifted off that status, including the town of Odaka, following tests showing acceptable levels of radiation to support long-term habitation. Odaka Station reopened in July of 2016, re-connecting Odaka to the transportation network of the region of Fukushima Prefecture and mainland Japan. Despite this, factors of time and lingering skepticism even among former locals have contributed to the slow trickle of returning townspeople, and as of February 2017, the population of Odaka was recorded at 1,132 people, approximately 11.3% of the pre-tsunami population. With a presently fragmented community, and the main economies of Odaka (fishing and rice farming) hindered by lingering fears of radioactive contamination, the future of Odaka is uncertain but not without hope. Several self-formed organizations became active after the occupation ban was lifted in the area. Such groups include the Anthology of Soso Region – which actively reports on new stores and construction sites in the region – and the Ukifune no sato group – which formed to introduce silk-making techniques back into the area.
Informed by the post-disaster landscape and its fragile, complex potential, these proposals extract and nurture future realities inspired by found conditions. In comparison to the technological utopias imagined for the megacity, the architecture proposed is markedly more modest and akin to minimally-invasive operations – both being traits at-scale with the community.
Each of the proposals applied research methods guided by “architectural behaviorology” and examined former and potential Actor-network relationships within the tenuous conditions at Odaka, Minamisoma, Fukushima. Informed by interviews and on-site observations, each project explored a specific set of relationships between “actors,” and how such “actors” could perform in order to re-activate the socio-ecological network in the specific area. These projects were developed from research conducted at the Columbia University GSAPP with instructors Momoyo Kaijima, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow Wow, and Tamotsu Ito.